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Welcome to BaloolaPalooza 2.0 Beta

Pardon our dust and welcome to the start of a new day. BaloolaPalooza.com as it was known has changed. It is a change for the better, one that hopes to improve all aspects of the site in all directions.

A Clearer Vision

BaloolaPalooza.com is shifting it’s focus, after six months of full operation having weighed all options and listened to many we decided a few things, BP.com is going to be less of a music news site and more of an entertainment commentary site.
We are opening up the site to new areas and fresh ideas.
It was felt that as a news site we functioned poorly, mostly recycling news from other outlets and unfortunatly leaving much behind.
We were far from a failure though having made several scoops of our and that will continue, if we hear things before they break we’ll be sure to let you know.
We want BaloolaPalooza.com to innovate, we want it to be cutting edge and change the way people look at entertainment. We could not do that with our previous incarnation.

A Stronger Voice

Much of the site will still be here, as the change is not as drastic as it sounds, BaloolaPalooza.com will still be a site by and for the people consisting of reviews, interviews and columns.
Bp.com and it’s forums are a community of unique individuals who have pride in their opinions and will argue them to no end.
We, the staff also take pride in this and will push to see this thrive, to give everyone a voice and allow them to be heard.
The new site will do just this with daily columns from writers from all over, speaking out on entertainment and the world around them as they see fit, sparing no one and refusing to be censored.
We’re trimming the fat to build a better community, a better place to meet others and to speak out on the world around you.

A Better Architecture

What you see here is a work in progress. BaloolaPalooza.com is being rebuilt from the ground up using web standards (w3c.org) with structural xhtml and presentational CSS for all of the visual treatments, the site will be faster, easier to use, user customizable and able to work on almost anything that supports internet access, including computers, phones and PDAs alike.

-J

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Soundtrack to Life – (Guest author: Aaron Rhoades)

This week’s guest author is our own Aaron Rhoades. Though it’s not one set storyas this column has been in the past, but it does cover the very premise of this column. In this week’s column he discusses how music has influenced his life throughout the years. Enjoy folks.

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As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved music. It has always been a very big part of my life and has helped me through some hard times. From breakups with girlfriends to deaths in the family, music has always been there to get me through. Call it crazy, call it strange, but it’s like an invisible friend. A friend who speaks to me about problems and feelings, and tells me everything is going to be okay. A friend who tells me tomorrow will be a better day. I love music, and this is my story. I hope you read this all the way through and that you leave with something after doing so. Whether it be the satisfaction of reading a good story, or a realization of just how important music is in our day to day life. This is the story of a music lover, enjoy.

Who’s Bad?

I remember when I was very young, I would always hear my mother and my grandmother playing music. Mostly country music, which isn’t my preference now, but back then I didn’t care. It was music and I liked it. One of my favorite songs was by Kenny Rogers, The Gambler. I used to love hearing that song. Even Christmas songs, which I now find extremely annoying, brought joy to me. Every time Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer would play on the radio, I would call my grandmother to tell her. I got such a kick out of it. Speaking of Christmas, that reminds me of when I got my very first cassette tape. I don’t remember which album it was, but I do know it was a Jackson 5 album. I would guess I was probably about 7 at this time. That Christmas when I got that tape, I was so excited. I was all about Michael Jackson. I had the Beat It T-shirt, the Michael Jackson doll, and hell I even had the leather jacket from the Beat It video. Now I had the tape to go along with it all. I listened to that tape over and over again. I was into Michael Jackson for a while and I even got the Thriller album, on vinyl! I sure wish I knew where that album was now.

Let It Rock

Once my Michael Jackson obsession passed, I was introduced to rock music. Through my cousin, who played Bon Jovi’s album, Slippery When Wet, while he was visiting, I was turned onto to a different type of music. I loved it! Songs like You Give Love A Bad Name, Livin’ On A Prayer, and Dead Or Alive grabbed me by the arm, pulled me in and never let me go. I played them over and over again until I memorized each and every single word. It was like a snowball effect after that. Bon Jovi led to Poison, Whitesnake, and Motley Crue. Yeah, the fucking Crue. I remember seeing the pentagrams on the cover of Theatre Of Pain and thinking I would never be aloud to get the album. But I did and let me tell you, I thought Smoking In The Boys Room was the coolest song ever. These guys who were wearing make up, spandex, long hair, and earrings were singing about something that I knew damn well was against the rules. How could that not be cool to a 10 year old? Sure, that’s nothing compared to the song content now and those bands for the most part are forgotten. Back then though, they were everything to me. I remember emptying out my bank and counting out pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters until I had about 10 dollars just so I could go buy a new cassette. Mostly I only listened to a few select bands. Poison, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Def Leopard, Bon Jovi, and some Kiss. I had a toy microphone with a stand, as well as an electric guitar that I couldn’t play for shit. Not to mention most of the strings were broken and it was beat all to hell. Me and my friends would get together in my garage with the stereo and we would pretend to be playing the music. We would do this for hours, and we had a kick ass time. Later on, I was introduced to a new band.

You’re In The Jungle Baby

This band wasn’t like the others that I had listened to. They were different. Not only because they didn’t wear make up and spandex, but their sound was different as well. It was raw, aggressive, harsh and in your face, and it fucking rocked harder than anything I’d ever heard before. I’m talking about Axle, Izzy, Duff, Steven and Slash…Guns N Roses. One listen to the song Welcome To The Jungle and I was hooked. They provided an edgier sound than what I was used to, as well as the occasional semi-sappy ballad such as Sweet Child O Mine. I liked how they weren’t afraid to say what they wanted to in their music. Appetite For Destruction was the album that introduced me to the harder side of rock, called metal. I started watching Headbangers Ball on MTV and was turned on to many other metal bands like Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Testament, and Skid Row. Every Saturday night, I was glued to the television watching those videos and jamming along to every tune. While I still enjoyed bands like Whitesnake and Poison, I got more and more into the harder bands I was seeing every Saturday night. I was soon turned onto a band who most people would consider the saviors of heavy metal, Metallica. The first album I heard by them was …And Justice For All and it kicked my ass like nothing else had before. The music was fast and it hit hard as hell. I eventually picked up Kill Em All and then later I got the Black album. I pretty much stopped listening to them after that album. While I’ll always respect what these guys have done for heavy metal, I don’t care too much for their music anymore. Their latest album, St. Anger, is terrible and I honestly wish I had never wasted my money on it. All of the hype of how the old Metallica had returned and got my hopes up I guess, and I was let down. That’s my opinion though. Some people agree with me and some people don’t.

Rollin’ With The Lench Mob

It was late 90, or early 91 and I was in the sixth grade when I bought my first rap album and was turned onto something entirely different. Ice Cube, Amerikkas Most Wanted was the album. I can still remember my Mom being so pissed when I popped it into the cassette player in the car after she bought it for me, not knowing what it was. The intro featured a guy going to the electric chair, and when asked if he had any last words, his reply “Fuck all ya’ll. She was not too pleased, but agreed to let me keep it if I didn’t let my Dad find out. I had never heard rap music before until now. I was immediately hooked and soon forgot about heavy metal. Ice Cube, NWA, and Public Enemy were the first three rap acts I got into. They talked about real things and said what was on their mind. I really liked that. Even though I couldn’t relate to most of the things they were rapping about, I still respected what they were doing. Of course being a white kid who listened to rap, I wasn’t exactly popular in my school of mostly white students. I heard the word “wigger” more than a few times during the day. I didn’t give a shit though, because I loved the music. If I wanted to block out the bullshit I had to put up with, all I had to do is turn up the volume on my discman. I learned about most of the music through the MTV show, Yo! MTV Raps. I watched it religiously, just as I had Headbangers Ball not too long ago. This was the only place to really catch any rap videos at the time, and I really embraced it. It was my only source for discovering new rap artists. Yeah, I watched MTV to learn about new music…sue me. That’s how I learned about all of the rap artists I was into, like Ice T, Too Short, Spice 1, and many others. Rap City was introduced on BET later on as well and they played a lot of the videos that MTV didn’t. I saw a video one day that really caught my attention and I had to run out and get the album. The video was for the song Trapped by 2Pac and the album was 2Pacalypse Now. I loved this album so much. I listened to it over and over and over in my Walkman. So many different emotions are covered on this album, as well as on all of Pacs other albums. He could go from a song like Violent where he talked about killing cops, to a song about teenage pregnancy like Part Time Mutha. I followed Pacs career up through the years, through all of his albums. His music touched me like no other rapper ever had, and I honestly feel he’s the greatest rapper ever. Again, just my opinion. When he died, I honestly felt like I had lost a friend. Still to this day, after he’s passed on, if a Pac album comes out then I’m there to get it on release date. I was later introduced to an album called 99 Ways To Die by a rapper called Master P. This isn’t the rapping alongside his son, ice on my wrist, gold plated fucking mansion Master P that most people know now though. It was about real shit, not how much gold was around his neck. The shit was hot, and I soon began grabbing other No Limit Records albums. Tru, Silk The Shocker, Mia X, and Kane & Able. Their southern style wasn’t like what was out at the time, and it was a breath of fresh air from most other stuff. However, they all got too big for their own good and soon money, cars, and jewelry consumed every single song. Cash Money Records came along too, and they were similar to No Limit. Similar style, released a new album by one of their artists like every damn month. I was into them for a bit too, until I realized it was all becoming the same. Rap became stale and boring to me and I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. It was then that I got into punk rock.

Change of Ideas

It hasn’t been that long since I got into punk music. Two years to be exact, but I’ve gotten quite an extensive collection of albums since then. The first punk album I bought was Blink 182 Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. I know, Blink’s not punk rock, right? Whatever. Like it or not, they are a form of punk rock. This album stayed in my CD changer for the longest time. It was so damn catchy and addictive, I had to have more. I scooped up all of Blinks albums and soon began looking for more punk rock. From Blink 182 I got into other bands like NOFX, Pennywise, and Bad Religion. I was and still am addicted to this music. I love every bit of it. The same thing that attracted me to rap in the sixth grade, also attracted me to punk music. It was real. Of course, the age old argument that punk is dead is bound to come up, right? Well, I don’t think it’s dead, just evolved. You know what they say about opinions though.

Unity

Music, regardless what genre I listened to at the time, has always been a big part of my life. When I was a little kid, I could pretend I was a huge rock star and live out that dream in my garage while jamming along to a Def Leopard album. In High School, rap music was my escape from the bullshit reality I had. Not fitting in at school and a fucked up home life with an alcoholic father. As soon as I put my headphones on, it all went away if only for a short amount of time. When my grandmother, who helped raise me, passed away when I was 18, music helped me through it. I would put on a song by Patti Loveless, called How Can I Help You Say Goodbye and listen to it over and over. When I was 19 and my girlfriend of 3 years moved away to Florida, I must’ve listened to the R. Kelly CD a thousand times in a row. Mainly one song really, called If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time. Recently, when my father passed away, I turned to music to help me through things. A song called One More Day by the country band Diamond Rio was played at his funeral, and it makes me think of him every time I hear it. When I’m pissed off, I can pop in some punk or some metal and just go fucking crazy and rock out for a bit. It helps me to get out some aggression, and maybe even keeps me sane. When I’m sad, I can pop in some Less Than Jake, Blink 182, or some other good time bands and it helps to lift my spirits. From good times to bad, music has always been there. I now listen to a wide range of music, consisting of punk, metal, a little bit of rap, and some things in between. If you look at my CD collection, which is rounding out around 600 right now, you’d see a very diverse collection. I’ve got Lil Kim, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Biggie, Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, Rancid, Ozzy, Staind, Disturbed, Operation Ivy, Anti-Flag, Blink 182, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, R Kelly, Ice Cube, Slipknot, Finch, The Used, MXPX, AFI, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alkaline Trio, Snapcase, Brotha Lynch Hung, and Nas…all on the same CD shelf. How’s that for wide range musical taste? Like I said, I love music. If it sounds good to me, I’ll listen to it and it won’t matter to me what the guy sitting next to me thinks about my choice in music. I see a lot of competing, for lack of a better word, in music today. The punkers don’t like the emo kids, the metal heads don’t like the punkers, the hip-hop heads don’t like the metal heads or the punkers, and there’s all sorts of resentment directed towards people who are into pop music, commonly referred to as “teenie-boppers.” I’ve been guilty of this at times as well. What it all boils down to is, it’s all music. It’s a part of each and every one of our lives, whether we agree on one another’s choices or not. With all of the bullshit going on in the world today, it seems that music is the one thing that should unite us all. Someday, it might be all we have.

Aaron Rhoades

‘Gambino’

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

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Soundtrack to Life – A Tribute to a Friend

So, I’ve been on a six week hiatus from this column. Like I said, it’s not like a lotta ya read it. But I guess I had a loyal fanbase and that really shouldn’t be denied. So, I have returned from the grave to bring you more stories, and hopefully, you can send me yours, yes?

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A Tribute to a Friend

“Hammering in My Head” by Garbage

It all began in the spring of ’98. Having turned 16 the previous winter, Scott was the first person in our little clique to get his license. This was big for us because it increased where we could go and when we could go. Still, we spent a lot of time at Jay’s place, finding some game to play (ie. Capture the Flag). We’d created a wide variety of games to play so the days were always full. On one of these days, around the time Scott got his license, we were goofing around, playing one of these games when Scott made a dash for his van. He began to make a getaway when he stopped at the corner and called for me to get in. I somehow got ahead of the others and jumped in. He turned on the CD player as we sped off down the block. The song playing was “Hammering in my Head” by Garbage. Since then, I’ve always felt that to be a cruising tune, and the thought of it just takes me back to that day.

But that’s hardly the story here, just a minor portion of it. See, Scott was one of the most popular guys in school. He coulda had any girl he wanted and had friends in all forms of social cliques. I was lucky enough to have known the guy since we were in 2nd grade. That summer, we’d often be at his place, another bonfire party. I remember one in particular, in the fall though, shortly after school had begun that year. People of all walks of life meandered about the yard. Me, I was flat on my back staring up at the stars. A beautiful night. Later we wandered down the street by the old church and ran into another party that was wandering through a field. I think they were looking for someone’s keys. Adam let one of the girls take his car for a test drive. She returned with the rear bumper in the trunk. Tore it off on a mailbox as she was backing out of the driveway. We all had a good laugh about it. As our party died down, we heard rumors of another bonfire in the area. We decided we were gonna crash it. We never found it. We asked a few bars, witnessed a fight in one of the parking lots and wound up wandering an unfamiliar neighborhood. Just a stellar night.

Things were gonna be alright. Everything was right with the world. Suzan had stopped harassing me, and I actually had a social life now. And then, late at night on January 1, or was it 2? I dunno. But it was early ’99. I’d been chatting it up on Battle.net for a good portion of the night and was ready to go to bed. I was about to log off ICQ when Jay sent me a message.

“Scott was just in a bad accident. They had to rush him to Froedtert.”

He’d been driving, heading to Jay’s house when he hit an icy patch. He went into the ditch, but was able to recover and get back on the road. Unfortunately, the car coming from the other way couldn’t stop. He hit the driver’s side door, slamming Scott’s head into the window.

Around here, if you gotta be taken to Froedtert, you got fucked up. I knew that. I walked off to bed, blank faced. I never told my family what had happened. I slept fitfully, praying that he pulled through.

I found out the next day that he’d made it……. but, he was in a coma. When my family found out, I’d told them I hadn’t mentioned it because I just didn’t want to talk about it. This was Scott! The picture of perfect health. This guy was just amazing, and now he was clinging to life. I couldn’t fathom it. I don’t remember how long it took, but he eventually came out of the coma. I didn’t get to see him until April.

The whole clique came down to see him where he was rehabilitating. Awake, yes, but he was bed ridden. How conscious was he? I wondered. I thought they’d take us into his room where he’d be lying there and we could stand at his bedside. Instead, we took a seat in the cafeteria and they wheeled him out in a wheelchair. Here he was, a star track athlete, a ladies man, the king of charisma and just an all around great guy……. helpless. He sat there, head restrained so he didn’t have to support it himself, expressionless, pale, and not moving an inch. Occasionally he’d let out a zombie-esque moan. I did my best to look positive, but I could hardly even look at him. Literally a shadow of his former self. I felt sick. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t fuckin’ right……

It’s been 4 years now, nearing the fifth anniversary of that night. I still can’t believe that this is what has become of my friend. He has vastly improved over the years, but he still has a long way to go. He’s still in his wheelchair, can barely control his legs and arms and has a hard time keeping his head up. He can speak, but very slowly and very slurred. A lot of the time that I see him nowadays I require a translator. The one positive thing I can note is that, well, he’s still in there. The accident cost him his motor skill but he still thinks, acts, and talks like he did before the accident. When I visit, we usually play Magic. He needs someone to handle the cards for him, but he can still beat my ass on most any given day. It’s still not certain as to whether or not he will recover 100%, and sadly, I have my doubts.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

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Soundtrack to Life – "Friendly" Competition

Hey look, it’s done on time. Betcha didn’t see that coming. Looks like a slow news week as there’s only one article seperating this one from last week’s addition. I’ve decided this week to go again with something a little more universal. Granted, I have a few songs that can go with this one as there’s a few different spins on this story, but I feel this is the better way of doing it. It’s another montage of stories. Enjoy.

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“Friendly” Competition

“West End Riot” by The Living End

Our story begins in the early 80’s in Barton Wisconsin on a little street known as Kettle View Drive. This spans many a year and many people are involve. So, to prevent a complication of matters, we’re gonna start with a cast of characters.

The Nichols family: My family. We’ve been on this street longer than any of the other families in this story.

Me – No introduction really necessary. Back then I was the neighborhood wuss.

Pat – My older brother, and at that time, rolemodel. One of the street “Ringleaders”

Tim – My younger brother and probably the strangest kid on the street.

The Bertram family: Our next door neighbors. Moved in a year or so after we did.

Nora – The oldest kid in the family and one of the oldest kids on the street. Barely got involved with our matters.

Sara – Same age as Pat. Also one of the “Ringleaders”

Barry – The youngest of the family. Same age as me, most competitive kid on the street and naturally, my arch rival.

The Briggs family: The farm family. All girls, all tomboys.

Michelle – Same age as Nora. Tended to stay out of our business, much like Nora.

Jackie – More or less Sara’s cohort. Same age as her. When the two got together, there was some conniving scheme afoot

Steph – A year younger than me, a year older than Tim. Barry’s cohort? No. Minion, yes. Whatever he did, she did.

The Driscoll family: The well off family. Moved in about ’93.

Angie – Same age as myself and Barry. Usually alright, but could really be a bitch at times. Particularly to me.

Ryan – A jock in training. Tim’s age. Often sided with Barry.

John – The youngest on the street. Prone to disobey orders.

All that said, let’s begin.

There’s a kid who was born and was raised in the west
There’s a kid from the east that never really fit in with the rest
Every week they would meet in the street with their friends
With the guns that they made and the caps that they stole they would fight
To their death.
This time, we’ll have victory
Last time, ended in a defeat
A town, becomes a battle ground! Battle ground! Battle ground!
West End Riot!
West End Riot!
We’ll be here next Saturday
With our guns and our heads held high
So listen up boys you’d better not cry this time

-We had our share of clubs and secret forts. Each one lasting little longer than a few days. What kid didn’t? At this time, the Driscolls hadn’t even moved in yet. Barry was the one always trying to organize the clubs. Often with some grand dream of a tree house. Those never worked. Mostly we’d nail some boards together and forget it entirely. For a brief time, we did have a club house. It was under the stairwell in the closet of the Bertrams’ house. But Sara ran that, and I believe she called it the I Love Buffalos club. She loved buffalos, can’t you tell? Barry started a few of the clubs with the soul purpose of keeping me out. So he’d set up some ridiculous set of rules for getting in, usually a task you had to accomplish. He was a big one for tree climbing, so we had to climb a specific tree a specific way. When I’d try, he’d insist I did it wrong. Petty little kiddy shit. Longest lasting clubhouse we had was a vacant barn on Steph’s yard. It cleaned up pretty nice and there was plenty of space to sit.

-Pat and Sara oft saw Barry and myself as their race horses. “My brother can beat your brother” kinda thing, so we were basically bred to compete with one another. Anything they could think of. Foot races in particular. To the tree and back! Up the hill! Down the hill! Around the house! Talk about building a rivalry. Sometimes he’d win, sometimes I’d win.

-Tag! Your it! So many variations we had on tag. Basic of course, and freeze. But we had to come up with other versions. TV tag where you’d be safe if you stopped and said the name of a TV show. I think we had tornado tag, where upon being tagged you had to spin until someone freed you. Funny, I don’t have a clear memory of that one. And our ever creative Toilet Tag. Upon being tagged, you had to squat down and hold your arms out in a circle. To be freed, someone had to sit on your arms and say “Flush!”. Yeah, we were weird.

-1 o’ clock, 2 o’ clock, 3 o’ clock rock!

4 o’ clock, 5 o’ clock, 6 o’ clock rock!

7 o’ clock, 8 o’ clock, 9 o’ clock rock!

10 o’ clock, 11 o’ clock, 12 o’ clock MIDNIGHT!!!

Our traditional mantra before a game of Ghosts in the Graveyard. This one was only played at night, and I was a whiny little chicken shit who was afraid of the dark. We played this at the Briggs’ house since they had an entire farm, complete with orchard. Basically, the ghost would hide somewhere in the yard and everyone else would go out looking for him/her. The entire neighborhood would play this one. Upon sighting the ghost, you were to yell “Ghost in the Graveyard!” and everyone would return to the safe zone, or Gool as we called it. Whoever got tagged by the ghost would join him/her in the haunt until there was only one survivor. Jackie and Michelle had an advantage in this game. They knew how to ride the horses. So, occasionally, our ghost could be spotted on horseback. Fun game to play though when you have a maze for an orchard.

-The Briggs family also had inner tubes for tractor tires. This served as a completely new game for us. Bounce around on the tube and try to stay on. I had one thing on my side for this game; weight. That’s right, aside from being a wuss and a chicken shit I was also the fat kid. And you always wondered why I’m so damn bitter. But yeah, fun little game.

-Ah pool parties. On any given summer, the Bertrams or my family had an operable pool. Never anything deep enough to go diving but we had our games. Marco polo was a constant. We also had these little yellow eggs that would sink. In each egg was a rubber alligator, but only one egg had the black alligator. Kind of a fun diving game, never too competitive. But if any of you ever had a circular aluminum pool, then you know what we did. Damn straight, whirlpool! Everyone going in one direction to get a strong current going. With like 7 people in the pool we had the current going pretty strong. But what would it be without a competition? We had one. Everyone would hop on a tube and begin rocking back and forth, causing waves. Last man standing wins. Again, my weight had much bearing in this game.

-We had bikes, and we had a nice, semi- steep hill. What do you think we did? I was all for it, until we started putting a ramp at the bottom of the hill. I remember watching Pat biff that one, big time. Didn’t hop off the ramp, so the bike fell on it’s side and he skidded over the lawn. Surprisingly, he wasn’t hurt.

-Fall was always fun. We’d rake together a pile of leaves and figure out some way of utilizing it. A big one was for Breakthrough and Conquer. That’s right, we were American Gladiator fans. We’d use the leaf pile as a goal. Pat, being the biggest at the time, was the hardest guy to face. Barry was just violent, especially when I was the opposition. Steph caught me by surprise a few times. There’s a big difference between a girl and a tomboy as concerns physical competition. Sometimes we just build the pile on one of the landscaping drop offs so we could jump into it. Good times.

See a bum on the street that you think you recognize
Young kid never looked so bad when he was only 4 foot high
Six o’ clock, runnin’ home, I don’t wanna be late
Another Saturday of sun and war, shared with our mates
This time, we’ll have victory
Last time, ended in a defeat
A town, becomes a battle ground! Battle ground! Battle ground!
West End Riot!
West End Riot!
We’ll be here next Saturday
With our guns and our heads held high
So listen up boys you’d better not cry
Boys will be boys playin’ up and makin’ lots of noise
Never used to talk about the future
Never thought that we’d have to care
So West End Riot!

In later years, we were older, so I was braver. But as such, the games got a little more intense, and new facets were added.

-We didn’t play much for organized sports. Occasionally, we’d have a neighborhood softball game, but that was once in a great while. We were big on soccer though. Rarely did a game end without a fight and someone storming off though. Barry and Ryan were probably the best players we had.

-Basketball wasn’t a big one, but we played games like Horse and Lightning all the time. I used to be a great shot, one of the better players in the neighborhood, but my skill has degredated over time. I remember hitting a one arm heave from halfway down our driveway. Barry dared me to try it again. I did, and on a total fluke I hit it again.

-Kick the Can. Alright, so it’s really more of a kids game. But when we were older, the game took on new dimensions. Particularly, strategy and stealth took on new meanings. Of both, I almost took it to an artform. I came up with places to hide that nobody had considered. They had an old wire spool, one of the large wooden ones. Nobody wanted to try hiding in it since it was right out in the open, and that was the beauty of it. I ducked in and stayed in the shadows. As John caught people, they sat on the spool. I caught someone’s attention, Ryan I believe, and as everyone got caught, he told them where I was. They tricked John into believing that they saw me in the orchard. When he went to look, I hopped out and saved the game. My favorite tactic was the simplest though. As John stood guard on the can, counting down to the begining of the game, eyes closed. I had one person creep up right in front of him while I stood behind. He opens his eyes, sees the one person to call them out and I kicked the can out from under him. Granted, he was just a kid, but that would have worked on anyone.

-Winter is another big time for competition. Anyone can have a snowball fight, of which we had many. But our fun was on the Bertrams’ sled hill. We’d set up a ramp of ice about 2/3 the way down the hill and hit it at high speeds on Sno-Tubes (inflatable tubes with handles). Steph had this knack for missing the ramp entirely though, and just hitting the garage. From these tubes, we developed a game. We also had the Tuff Tube, which was originally used for tubing behind a boat, was about 4 feet across. Three people would load onto the tube and glide down the hill. Those who fell off would be nailed by those who followed on the smaller Sno-Tubes. Every time I hit someone I’d lose the tube and go sailing. It was on one of these tubes that Tim ascended the garage and thought it would be a good idea to sled off. Nope. Big mistake. Rather than sailing off, he just dropped. Quite a funny sight. But it was on the sled hill that we manufactured our most devious device.

-Setting, snow covered hill. Mode of transportation, plastic tobogan. Goal, be the only guy to make it down the hill. We called it Sled Wars. Quite simply, we’d try to take each other off our sleds by any means necessary. Dangerous, yes. Fun, damn straight. Worst hit I took was due to Pat. Put me in a headlock and drove me face first into the corner of the garage. I only walked away with a bloody nose.

There’s a man who was born in the west workin’ at a factory
There’s a man from the east who now runs the whole company
How they’ve grown on their own not like the kids they used to be
Saturdays of sun and war are just fond memories.
West End Riot!
West End Riot!
We’ll be here next Saturday
With our guns and our heads held high
So listen up boys you’d better not cry
Listen up boys you’d better not cry
So listen up boys you’d better not cry this time!

Things have changed greatly since then. Ya know, I used to hate those days, how I got singled out and all. Now I just look back on those days and smile. Guess the old saying is true. “One day I’ll look back on this and laugh.”

The Nichols family: We’ve degenerated greatly. All the other families stayed relatively happy and together. Things just went sour for us.

Me – I’m no longer the coward I once was, and I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been.

Pat – He went from rolemodel to an example of what not to do.

Tim – Still a nut, but more down to earth now. He actually turned out alright.

The Bertram family: They’ve stayed a happy family unit.

Nora – Went off to college. Living in Madison I think

Sara – Also went to college. She was going to get married, but her fiance died last year of a heart attack. She’s been living back at home.

Barry – Became a pothead. Can’t say I’m overly surprised.

The Briggs family: The very portrait of the happy middle American family. They still own the farm and maintain it.

Michelle – Off to college. Don’t know where she went.

Jackie – Also went to college.

Steph – She’s cleaned up the tomboy persona, and her attitude. Also off at college

The Driscoll family: I never really kept up with them. They still live in the neighborhood, but I never talk with any of them.

Angie – Left town, I’m assuming college. Never really got along with her.

Ryan – Unknown

John – Unknown

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

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Soundtrack to Life – Nights With The Crew

Yup, late again. I don’t intend on making a habit of this. What’s this week’s excuse? Lack of time once more. Seems like the only real time I get for online writing is what little time I get before work, the occasional evening/afternoon after work and the early, really early mornings, we’re talkin’ between 3 and 6 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. It’s a constant struggle. Everyone’s into Diablo once again, so computer time is restricted. So let’s see. Where do we go today? How about something universal. How about a song that most of us would have on our soundtrack? I’ll tell ya though, this one’s more for the punk crowd, but I think most anyone could relate. It’s all in what you think of when you hear it.

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Nights With The Crew

“Look What Happened” by Less Than Jake

And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try
And we’ll walk in circles around this whole block
Walk on the cracks on the same old sidewalk
And we’ll talk about leaving town
Yeah we’ll talk about leaving
I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try

There it was, late ’99, early ’00. Finally, I was finally being broken out of the boondocks. Called along for the little adventures that were planned. And there we were, four young men against the world. Myself, the recluse with a biting wit. Jay, the anti-establishment punk, looking for his escape. Musse, a bit of a worry wart but always a voice of reason. And Tim, who’s motto was “Live your life like you’re in a movie. That way you’ll look your best at all times.” Kind of an odd clique, that we were. Each of us occasionally taking cues from the others. We were like something out of movie, ya know, where each guy serves his own purpose and the team works together to achieve their goal. We were nightowls. We thrived at night. In fact that’s when most of the good stories take place. A lot of ’em usually followed a few hours at Webb’s downing cup after cup of coffee.

But that was it. Senior year. In a few short months we’d be graduates. A world of options ahead of us. So around this time, we kinda looked at it like the last big bash. Who knew who was going where or doing what. Jay was liable to pick up and leave, and from the looks of it, I’d be going with him. Musse was looking at schooling and Tim has always had the air of success around him. This very well could be the last hurrah. So we spent a lot of time out on the town, whatever town that may be.

We rode across that bridge all night
We talked our way through city lights
Traced all the lines, we’re killing time
Under those buzzing signs
From downtown to anywhere but here
Tonight yeah I swear to these rooftops
And just hoped that car would never stop
And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try
And we’ll walk in circles around this whole block
Walk on the cracks on the same old sidewalk
And we’ll talk about leaving town
Yeah we’ll talk about leaving
I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try

A tame night would include playing Tony Hawk, or Risk and watching a few movies. Still fun as we tended to throw our own commentary into movies. And anyone who’s really gotten into Risk knows what a four hour game can get like with a heated rivalry going on. But those are just the nights we’d stay in. Many a given night in West Bend, any combination of the four of us could be seen wandering around, just walking and chatting. Most of the time we were just griping about this town, and who at our age didn’t. Live in one place for most of your life and the scenery is bound to get boring. We’d take many different paths, just meandering across town, no specific destination, just going where the whim would take us. I enjoyed nights like this.

There aren’t many places to go that time of night, so ya gotta make due with what’s available. Webb’s, always a natural choice. It was fun just staying up late enough to go to Sandy’s Barton Cafe at 4:30 in the morning. Of course by that time we’d be in that pleasant state of loopy where everything is funny, including making the cream decanters moo at people. Another favorite stop was Pick n Save South. Open 24/7 with a little sitting area, generally utilized by the elderly, to have a snack or something. And so we’d go there, get some Little Juan burritos and a bunch of junk food and just sit there watching the late night traffic. A good portion of it was drunk/stoned teens making a midnight run for snacks. We’d just sit there getting dirty looks from store clerks and cracking jokes at the expense of eachother and any patrons of the store we happened to know. Other times, we’d just explore. Adam and Jay actually mapped out part of the sewer system they were able to access one night. The train tressle was also a fun little stop, a hole beneath the tracks where you couldn’t be spotted by the casual observer. Sometimes these little sprees of ours would find us climbing into bed as the sun rose. Yeah, those were the tame nights though.

We drove around that place all night
Passed closed signs and familiar sights
We’re moving by, killing time
Counting those center lines
With twenty-thousand lines left to go
That lead to somewhere I don’t know
It might be the time we leave this all behind
And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try
And we’ll walk in circles around this whole block
Walk on the cracks on the same old sidewalk
And we’ll talk about leaving town
Yeah we’ll talk about leaving
I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try

Okay, so we weren’t the wildest bunch, but we knew where to find fun when all else failed.

One night, Jay and I decided just to skate around town. But ya see, I’m a lame ass, and I don’t have a skateboard. But I do have rollerblades, so we were good to go. I could go some of the places he couldn’t naturally, but he was faster due to the fact that he’d been on his board longer than I’d been on my blades. Had a cop stop us as we cut across the highway. Come on, we were safe. So, just cruising along, Jay goes down a loading ramp at a store. See, I thought it was open on the end, not a wall of concrete. Did I mention I can’t really brake on my blades either? Yeah, fun time. But rather than slamming into the wall, I caught myself on the guide rail. Narurally, I was going at a good clip already, so my feet flew out from under me and I did a sideways superman into the wall before falling to the ground. Ow.

I was never along for any of their roof climbing exploits, though they did get caught for trespassing once. We got stopped by the cops all the time but they never had anything on us.

Ya know how sometimes a store will have free AOL CDs? Well Jay collected them. Seriously, he had a massive amount of these things. But to us, they weren’t CDs, oh no. They were Flying Discs of Death! I remember engaging in more than one Flying Disc of Death war in some parking lot in the middle of the night. Those little bastards hurt! Especially when they had chipped away into jagged edges. I was absent for the biggest of these wars which took place at Jay’s house between the basement and ground floor. The stairwell was a warzone. Blood was drawn on more than one combatant.

And then there was Tuesday Night Football League. The four of us teamed up with Gintner and BJ to have two three-man teams. Midnight football on the UWWC football field, full contact of course. Everyone got injured at some point. Afterwards, we the six combatants would stagger into Webb’s, getting odd looks from all the patrons.

Messing with anyone out on the highway is fun. I recommend Halloween masks. So little, but they say so much. We had a bleeding skull mask that Jay would wear during drives. Any time we got near someone, he’d press his face to the window until our fellow commuter would take notice. Some would laugh, others would just speed up. All in good fun.

One of my fonder memories would be of the snowfall of 2000. Jay and I had been up all night, everyone else had passed out. When we saw there was a nice coat of snow already on the ground, we tried to rouse the troops. By this time, it was about 3am, so nobody was moving. We proceded to step outside and have a snowball fight right in the intersection. It was the good kind of packing snow. After we bored ourselves with that, we built a snowman right on the bus stop. Just sitting there on the street corner. Let the kids figure it out. The snow hadn’t been touched, so we had to wander the town. We would slide down the hills and throw ourselves into the snowbanks that were up from previous snowfalls. We visited Tia, but of course she wasn’t awake, so we left a message in the snow outside her apartment. “Moo! 5:20am”. Naturally a cop stopped us eventually, but he didn’t really care that we were out so early, just cautioning us of conditions.

And lastly, a true sign that we live in a boring town. Jay was all about dumpster diving, so he’d look for the good spots to hit up. Pick n Save North and South don’t have dumpsters that are accessible, but they leave their baked goods that are a day past expiration in shopping carts out back. At least…. they used to…. eh heh heh! Myself, Jay and Musse visited the North store one night after working at the Haunted House. We checked out back, but there were no doughnuts or anything like that. But there were two shopping carts full of bread. Jay seizes the moment and shoves all the bread in back of Musse’s Baretta with me. The mere idea of carrying that much bread had us just rolling while he did this. As we drove around, Jay was dropping loaves out the window, throwing them where ever. We stopped at McDonald’s to visit Musse’s mom. Jay left a loaf on the roof of the car and rolled another up in the window. Upon leaving McDonald’s after our brief visit, Jay snatches up the bread on the car and nails me with it.

“What are you trying to do? Start a bread fight?”

Jay snapped his fingers and pointed right at me.

“Duuuude!”

We rolled out and found ourselves in the UWWC parking lot. No view from the road, no security cameras. Jay and I leapt from the car and began wailing on eachother with the purloined loaves. Musse joined us shortly thereafter. You can really only get one good shot out of a loaf of bread before the bag tears and slices go everywhere. Somewhere around 50 loaves of white bread littered the parking lot, left for the birds in the morning.

And there’s been a few times
That we thought it felt right
To take the westbound signs
And just leave town tonight
And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try
And we’ll walk in circles around this whole block
Walk on the cracks on the same old sidewalk
And we’ll talk about leaving town
Yeah we’ll talk about leaving
I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try

Ahh. Good times, good times.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

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Soundtrack to Life – A Cautionary Tale

Well waddaya know, I’m late. It’s mostly my fault, though not entirely. I started at 5, got distracted watching Yu Yu Hakusho and Rurouni Kenshin, and left for my Jaycee’s meeting around 6. When I came home I was dead tired and the house was packed, so I wouldn’t have been able to touch the computer ’til past midnight anyways. Alright, so what can I say? These last two weeks, I haven’t exactly been “feeling it” as it were. I still have stories, plenty of stories. They just haven’t been clicking, ya know. I’m still holding onto a few of the bigger ones, and I’m sure I’ll write about them soon. But this week, I’m gonna stray from my usual style, and talk about how I got into a band in particular.

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A Cautionary Tale

“Dammit” by Blink 182

And so there it was. One year of highschool behind me. Suzan was still calling, but it wasn’t as bad as it had been in the previous months. My grades had suffered a little this year, putting me off honor role for a quarter or two. That bothered me, cuz that’s just the kinda guy I was. But it was cool. I was going into my sophomore year, which I’d been told was the easiest one to deal with. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, but I really wasn’t stressing it.

I remember, heading into fall, MTV was going to air their first ever Sports and Music Festival. I still watched MTV all the time back then, so I was tuned in with whatever was going on. When commercials for SMF1 were on, there was one riff that opened the commercial and played throughout. It was a very catchy riff, so naturally, I wanted to know who did it. So, I watched a lot of MTV, not really trying to figure out who had the mystery riff, but it was always in the back of my mind. One day, as I sat there, I heard the riff again. This time when I looked up, there wasn’t a commercial, but rather three young men walking toward the movie theater. The info box in the lower left portion of the screen told me what I wanted to know.

Blink 182

Dammit

Dude Ranch

I got a good laugh from the video. Mark pining over his ex who had just happened to show up at the theater with another guy. Mark, Tom, and then drummer Scott Raynor screwing around, harassing the couple, all leading to a chase scene in the lobby. The song was just so catchy that I couldn’t avoid it. I went out and bought the CD just for that song. I also got Denis Leary’s “Lock and Load” that day, but that’s neither here nor there. And there I sat, with a brand new CD that I’d only bought for one song. This was stupid. Just retarded. So, rather than just listening to that song, I played through the whole CD. I loved the sound it had, loved the humor involved, and it quickly became a part of my usual line up.

The year moved on, and the sophomore year lived up to expectations. Classes were a breeze, Suzan wasn’t on my case as much, grades were back up. Things were lookin’ up. You’re probably expecting me to throw in mention of something going horribly wrong here, but nothing would go wrong. Not ’til ’99 anyways. I got more into the Blink CD, but I hadn’t even considered that they may have released other music already. That’s why I was a little surprised when Suzan gave me their Buddha CD for my birthday. This only increased my appreciation for the band, and I went in search of more material. Lo and behold, I managed to find a copy of Cheshire Cat at the record store not long afterward. To date, Cheshire Cat is my favorite Blink 182 CD. There’s something to be said about the emo sound to it.

Flash forward to summer of 1999. Early one May morning, while getting ready for school, I heard a familiar voice on the TV. I looked up to see three men running naked down the street. And then I looked at the TV. See, that’s a joke, you’re supposed to laugh you schmucks. But anyways, my belief was confirmed. It was indeed Blink 182 with their new single “What’s My Age Again?”. Immediately I began looking for info on when the new album would hit stores. June 6 is what the website said. I couldn’t wait. Imagine my surprise though, when I took a little bike ride on June 1 and found the album sitting in the CD rack at the local K-Mart. I don’t remember how many times I listened to Enema of the State that day, I just remember being happy with it.

I was happy for the memebers of Blink, I really was. A new album, airplay on MTV, and now their single was climbing the ranks on TRL. Wow, this is so cool! People are finally gonna know about these guys. More fans were coming out of the woodwork. It’s a good feeling seeing the guy you cheered for finally ascending the ranks and becoming well known. And then the band announced it’s second single to be……. “All the Small Things”? Why this song? Why would they do that? It’s the worst song on the album! They could have picked a far better single in my mind, namely “Adam’s Song” which came later, but I also would have liked to see “Going Away to College” or “Dumpweed”, even “Don’t Leave Me”. But no. It was “All the Small Things”. Okay, fine, no problem. At least they’re getting air play.

And then it happened. Something I’d always remember in regards to this band. I turned on TRL and got this….

“I voted for Blink 182’s ‘All the Small Things’ cuz Mark is hot! Woooooooo!”

What?! No! No no no! You little airheaded ninny! They’re a punk band, not a boy band! That’s not a reason for liking them! How dare you soil their name! But it was too late. The teenie boppers were digging their claws in and turning them from punk to pop. It was excrutiating watching little miss trendy walking down the halls of the school sporting a brand new Blink 182 T-shirt. I just wanted to grab these people and tell ’em “You don’t know this band! You never heard the old stuff!” It was just aggrivating to me.

I just so happeened to be in speech class before they released “Adam’s Song”. So I took it upon myself to inform my classmates about the band, and in doing so, show my Blink roots, that I knew who they were before Enema of the State and that they weren’t just the pop flavor of the month. I forget what I got on the speech, either an A or a B, but that was pretty much my final public plee, using the video for “Dammit” as a visual aid. I’d said my piece, nothing more I could do. From there, well, we know what’s become of them.

I guess I do have a reason for writing this. Lately, there has been a surge of bands appearing from obscurity and getting air play and more fans. Bands like Unwritten Law, and The Ataris. More noteably though, I heard “We’ve Had Enough” by Alkaline Trio on the radio just this past Saturday. Will all these bands walk the same path that Blink 182 did before them? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

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Soundtrack to Life – The Pit

Ha! Just barely beat the deadline! Betcha thought I forgot all about this column today, didn’t ya?! What’s that? You hadn’t even noticed I post this every week on Thursday? You… hadn’t even…. thought about it today?……. Man, you guys are such kidders! Ya really had me going there! Anywho, as things have been today, I’ve been pretty busy. Stayed up ’til 5AM playing Final Fantasy Origins, so I woke up around noon. By that time, the drunken nimrod who I endearingly call brother had already taken root in front of the computer. By the time I got to it, I was already mapping my route around town today. Much running to do. All done now though, got home around 8:30. Guess what though. I have no idea what I’m gonna write about. That’s right. This late into the day, I’ve had all week to think about it, and I got nothin’. Well, I got something. I got a few stories I’ve been meaning to tell, just don’t know which one to use. Hmm…. It’ll come to me eventually, don’t worry. Hmm….. I know. Maybe someone sent me something so I won’t have to write it this week! *checks email* ….Nope. Hmm….. Ya know, I think I got it!

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The Pit

“Mr. Coffee” by Lagwagon

“Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place….” A pointless phrase to most, but to my little clique, it’s a phrase that draws up images of fantasy. An idea, a hope, a dream. A plan. Yes, a plan. But where do we start….

You talk to most any kid, any adolescent really, and they’ll tell you their town sucks. Their town is boring and there’s nothing to do. Most anyone you could meet will tell you that. Such was the case with West Bend, my town. Technically, I live in Barton, but Barton doesn’t have a post office, so all addressing for mailing purposes in the area is West Bend. In a city of 25,000 you’d think there’d be a lot to do. Sure, a coupla parks, two bowling alleys, a skating rink, a card shop/arcade, and Stocky’s Go-Kart track if ya got the money. No real hangouts though. Around 9 o’ clock most anybody looking for something to do is either cruising up and down Main Street, sitting at a friend’s house where they’re drinking or getting smoked up, or you do what we did. Get caffeinated.

In 2000, there were about 9 places to sit down and have coffee. Morning Glory was only open during school hours, to keep those damn kids out. St. Somewhere, which was very upscale and yuppie. Pinewood was more of a family restaurant, on the edge of town with high prices in some categories. Jumpin’ Java was more for the trendy kids. And then there were the diners. Sandy’s Barton Cafe was nice and we’d visit when we were up, seeing as they open at 4:30 in the morning and close shortly after noon. Perkins is good, though kind of on the edge of town and prices are a little high. Omicron, I like, but for me it’s more of a winter store; warm, comfy, more of a happy family atmosphere. Denny’s den was nice and cheap and the food was good. But the latter three all had the same problem. Sometime during the night, they’d close, not to open their doors again until morning’s light.

That’s why we chose George Webb’s as our hang out. Nice diner atmosphere, moderately priced food, excellent coffee, and all while staying open around the clock. We’d sit there for hours at a time, just a coffee, maybe some fries. We’d sit there with our friends and just chat it up all night. As sad and pathetic as that sounds, that was our fun. Getting together over a cup of coffee and just talking. But, all good things never last. Webb’s began having a higher traffic rate, and as such, more rules had to be enforced. First, you could only sit there for an hour tops. Then, they said you had to order more than coffee if you wanted to sit there that long. Then you had to spend a certain amount ($5 I believe) in order to stay that long. Lastly, they limited the “bottomless” coffee. More and more of the patrons were getting displeased, particularly the younger crowd. I’d begun hearing stories of people who’d been kicked out. For causing trouble, that I can understand. But for coming in with someone who had caused trouble, or for that matter, looking/dressing similar to that person, was absolutley ludicrous. In particular the “punk” crowd was targeted.

Our place was no longer our place. It had changed. We still came in all the time though. What else is open at midnight in this town? Wal-Mart and one gas station. That’s it. Jay (Aki’s brother) and I were frequent customers at this time of the night. We did have another favorite cafe though, and that was Fuel down in Milwaukee. It’s a wonderful place. Fliers and posters on the windows, patron art on the walls, patchwork tables and chairs, music playing over the system by some band most people would never know the name of, copies of The Onion in abundant supply, and bathrooms covered in grafitti which almost seemed to have been promoted by the owners. Fuckin’ awesome place, ’nuff said.

So there we sat at Webb’s. Another night, another pot of coffee. We began to talk about how cool it would be if there was a similar place to Fuel in town. “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place….”, we mused. We began listing everything that we thought would be awesome in a coffee shop. Jay began taking notes as we came up with more and more ideas for this dream joint.

-Music would be operated through a computer. A whole hardrive dedicated to mp3s. We’d leave an accessible playlist and charge for requests to play. A little more to put mp3s of your own on the computer.
-Open 24/7, naturally.
-Specialty foods depending on who’s cooking.
-The Wall of Souls. Basically offer people a chance to selling their souls and posting them on the wall.
-Our own Zine, where patrons could submit their works and we’d publish them.

My favorite idea was a little something I whipped up. If the place was a hit, like everyone who came there liked it, there’d naturally be questions about getting a job there. That’s where the auditions came in. Basically, submit our applicants to a series of torture tests and the winner got the job. My favorite idea in regards to this was holding a race across Regner Park while dressed in full scuba gear. Woulda been great fun. A while later the topic came up again. Jay pulled out the notes he took and we began talking about all we had thought up. It was only a matter of time before someone said it. “Why don’t we do it?”

And so we assembled. Myself, Jay, Tim, Musse, Sam, Tia and a few others. We had the plans on paper, we just had to figure out how to put them into motion. We began asking around town and started hammering out the who, what, where and when. Asking the restaurants where they bought their product from, mapping out more ideas, and of course, looking for a store front. As it was, there were two places downtown that were open for a new business to move in. One, a narrow shop with a large backroom. The other was much more spacious, so naturally we prefered it. We all started the job hunt and organized a request for a loan. We were gonna make it happen. It was well within our grasp. Sure it’d be a lot of work but together we could pull it off. Musse got to talking with his dad though, and his dad told him just how much it was gonna cost. Aside from the store, there was also the matter of insurance to worry about. Musse was our financial key stone and he backed out.

From there it all just fell apart. Morale went down the toilet. It was talked about less and less. We did meet someone however who had promised us he’d pay for the store front. Ya see, he was gonna get a country singing contract. He didn’t like singing country but that’s what he was good at. He had a bus ride down to Nashville in a few weeks. Oh yeah, I left out the part where dude’s a compulsive liar. Seriously, I haven’t met a more dishonest man ever.

And so there it is. A group of kids with a dream. A dream that never came true. I still remember the feeling of hope that we had, how we were certain that we could do it. And ya know, maybe some day, we still will.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

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Soundtrack to Life – Suzan

Well, it’s thursday morning, and once again I haven’t even begun my column. No real surprise here. I was gonna start it last night but I passed out in the computer chair — actually it’s a really comfy rocker — until about 6am when I went to bed. I have to get up early to write these things cuz otherwise I have to fight for the computer and privacy all day. As it is, I’m the only one up, and I like it that way. I won’t last I know. Around noon those damn kids are gonna start flooding in and taking over parts of the house. First this room, then the living room, and that’s where all the entertainment is. So I’ll be confined to my room, eyeing up various things that could be used as weapons. Anywho, I’ve got something huge in mind, but I’m not gonna start it today. Oh no. I think it’s about 5 parts if I can think of that many different songs for that adventure. Today I’m gonna tell a tale, one which some of you may remember hearing parts of. See, the whole relationship matter has been going through my head lately, so I figured I’d tell a story which fits the guidelines.

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Suzan

“The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe

Here it was, freshmen year. A big time in anyone’s life. That first year of highschool. Over the past three years, my disgust for society had begun to set in and I grew ever more jaded with each passing day. How could people treat their fellow man like this? I didn’t bother anyone. In fact, I went out of my way to avoid people. Still, someone always saw fit to fuck with me. Whether it be a passing comment or a whole series of stupid questions, I was there for their amusement.

In highschool, you gotta make your allies where you can. Check with your friends, see if you share classes. And if not that, find those with similar tastes and befriend them. Such was the case with my lunch hour. I had to take my Earth Science class in East for whatever reason when I was a West student, and that was just before lunch. I don’t know why, but for some reason in my own stubborn ways, I’d insisted on eating at West cafeteria. East cafeteria was just down the hall. If I so desired, I could have been one of the first in line. But for some reason I had to eat in West, which was a decent little jog from where I was. I shared this little powerwalking commute with fellow outcast Jim Schearer, who’d always joke that I was “slower than molasses going uphill in the middle of winter”. He and I set up our little niche in the cafeteria along with three girls from the freshmen class. We didn’t know who they were, but it was likely they were outcasts as well. There was Beth, a short, fat, young woman who didn’t even have a pretty face. Sarah, a larger fat girl with a bubbly attitude. Then there was Suzan. Shorter, skinny, staight blonde hair hanging past her shoulders, thick rimmed glasses and somewhat of a large nose. So she was the better looking of the three.

As days went by, myself and Jim got to know the three girls better, talking on a daily basis. Just idle chit chat and goofing around mostly. Now, as I’ve found, when women get together and one of these women sets her eyes on a certain man, the women work together to bring the two together. Such was the case with myself and Suzan. She asked me out one day. It had been the first time any girl had shown this much interest in me. I didn’t know quite what to respond. And so I said “I don’t see why not.” But, I had said so while walking away from the lunch table, as she’d asked me at midbell. She hadn’t heard me. I had the last two hours of the day to think about it. I mean, it seemed great that I’d have a girlfriend, but there was something in the back of my mind saying “no, don’t do it, it’s a mistake”. All I knew is she had my number and she’d give me a call. I got home from school and the first thing I did was turn on MTV, as was the common practice at the time. The first video to come on was “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. That was all the warning I needed, and avoided the phone for the rest of the night. I had to face the music eventually though, and got around to talking to her. I was just a stupid scared kid back then, so I did my best to guard her feelings and told her I didn’t know. Eventually, I told her I’d rather we just be friends. For most women, this would be deterant enough. But not Suzan.

As days, weeks, and months went by, she did everything in her power to keep me within striking distance, or so she thought. I had no interest in dating this girl, but she was gonna try anyways. To begin with, there was the phonecalls. She would call umpteen times a day, double digits at least, I shit you not. Thankfully, it was only at 10 minute incriments, as her parents had strict rules on the phone. There were times however when she’d get me when her parents weren’t home. I didn’t look forward to these calls. Try sitting on the phone, not a cell phone, not even a cordless, for a half hour or more, with little more than silence on the other end. Not fun. She actually called just as we started watching “Can’t Hardly Wait” once. I didn’t get off the phone until a while after the movie was over, despite the fact I’d told her I was busy. See that, that’s just obnoxious. Trust me, it gets worse than this. The pursuit was gonna require more drastic measures.

She would call sometimes, late at night. Late being 9 or later, as that’s when I went to bed at the time. Usually, it was just another quiet call, sometimes she’d tell me she was feeling horny. Not like a dirty call, just trying to pique my interest. But I wasn’t interested in this girl. The subject matter of any conversation got more and more drastic as time passed.

-Abusive relationships
-Being scared for whatever reason
-Feeling almost dethly ill
-Self abuse
-Lapses of unconsciousness
-Psychosis
-Multiple personalities
-Spiritual posession

It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. I guess she thought I’d take on the typical male “I’m here to save you” routine, but it wasn’t happening. It all was spiraling way out of control. And it hit it’s peak on January ’97.

I remember many facets of that day, but not the actual date. I remember we’d gotten food from Subway that day. I remember we were renting Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals for SNES. I remember that we’d been playing this lame Magic game for the computer in which there was a very limited selection of cards, you had to choose a hero, and you didn’t actually play Magic against your opponent. Mostly, I remember it was the day before the Superbowl. The Packers had finally made it to the big game after almost 30 years of falling short or just sucking in general. She’d called me up, depressed again. I’d played this game before, just had to help cheer her up. I couldn’t though, not tonight. She just wasn’t listening to me. She began to talk about suicide. We’d discussed this before and I did what I could to talk her away from the idea, and again, she wasn’t listening. I heard the silverware drawer open.

“Don’t do anything stupid.”
“You’re not here, you can’t stop me. *gasp* *sigh*”
“Suzan? Suzan?!”

Fuck. I was scared. I called 911, told them what had just happened, gave her number and address. They told me they’d call back to let me know what had happened. I paced and worried all night. No call. Fitfully, I managed to get to sleep. I woke up next morning, no call, still worrying. Finally, the phone rang. It was Suzan. She hadn’t done anything, she faked the whole thing. Part of me wanted to blow up, tell her to just fuck off, but I couldn’t. I’m too nice a guy to do that. I was just glad she was alright.

We still spoke after freshmen year, but we grew further and further apart over the years. By senior year, she was little more than a memory. I’d find out later that the reason she had vanished was because she was under psychological treatment. Can’t say I was surprised. We began talking again this last year, and actually do things together. Trying to save a friendship that never was I guess. She has improved greatly, though a few issues still lie beneath.

Though I’d heard “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt the day she asked me out, and she wanted to dedicate Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me” to me at Skate Country, there’s only one song that truly reminds me of the time I spent with her. “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

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Soundtrack to Life – Happy Haunting – My Big Year

Welcome to week 7. Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long to me. Time just seems to have been flying by as of late. Weeks just melt one into the other. Guess that’s what happens when ya get older. I remember Monday through Friday used to just drag on, but that was while I was still in school. Never mind, I’ve digressed already. I really gotta stop doing that. Aside from this I’m working on a few other stories that’ll go up here with at least one of them being a multi-chapter multi-week thing. Trust me, it’ll be more interesting than this has been.

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Happy Haunting – My Big Year

“Her Ghost in the Fog” by Cradle of Filth

And so I’d been asked to join the Hartford Jaycees. I made it to the next meeting, payed the membership fee and signed the papers. I was to be sworn in at the banquet they hold every year in January. It was a fine afair. Good food as opposed to what we got this year. As expected the gift exchange turned into a war. During the banquet, we hold a gift exchange in which all involved draw lots to see who picks first. That person goes up to the table, takes a gift and unwraps it in front of everyone. When the next person goes, they can take something off the table or take another person’s gift. If someone has their gift taken from them, they can go back to the table or take someone else’s gift. That all works with the “No Tag Backs” policy. If someone takes something from you, you can’t take it back, at least not right now. It was all in good fun and I enjoyed it, but this wasn’t why I’d joined the Jaycees.

Next week, yes, still in January, meetings were held every Wednesday night to plan this year’s haunted house. I was excited naturally. Since I was new to this meant I had some fresh new ideas that perhaps hadn’t been thought of before. Usually, Gary already has at least one concrete idea that is for sure going into the house, and this year was no different. Before announcing it though, he told me that he had me in mind for this room. Basically, I was to be a vampire, dead in my coffin. My slayer would announce that she had just killed me and that they had nothing to fear. At this point, through use of a remote, I’d turn off the main lights. I’d hop out of the coffin and stand in position to be hit with a pin light that would light up my face. Not only that, but he had this in mind to be the big scare of the house. Guess that makes me star of the show. Now I’d have to live up to the pressure.

So we got to kicking around other ideas for the house. I had a favorite of mine, a combined effort between me and another memeber, Ben I believe. The group would walk in and see a man sitting in front of a TV, watching clips from horror movies. We had the “Boogeymen” DVD in mind for this. He’d flip between scenes, making comments as he went. He’d then hit a button on the remote, which would switch between the DVD and a camcorder that was also hooked up to the TV. “Oh! This is my favorite one!” he says. The guests see the camera shaking around in a darkened room, with only bits of light coming in. There is a door. One monstrous hand reaches up and pushes the door open just a bit. What does the camcorder see? The group in the room. It should dawn on them about the time that the monster comes flying out of the closet. Woulda worked great, but it became a matter of how much technical work would go into it. I’d also decided around this time that I wanted to put some real music in the house this year. So, I asked around the internet, and checked out a few bands. One band came to mind as I listened to one of their songs. It was Cradle of Filth. The song, “Her Ghost in the Fog”. It was Bloodbath’s entrance music in PWF. It just sounded perfect. I began downloading their music with the intent of whipping up a good soundtrack for the haunted house. I now own around 7 of their CDs. Sadly, the music never got used, but it was still to be a good year.

I don’t recall doing much in the way of clean up, but we started getting out there in the later months to work. Myself, Lara and Aki helped where we could. My job was mostly moving big things, but I did some basic construction as well. Lara and Aki helped me when possible but also handled a portion of the cleaning. I believe they also helped us grill out on a few days. For the most part, the three of us concentrated on what was to be my room. Using caulk, we glued pieces of pink styrofoam to the black wall in the shapes of bricks. Now, when styrofoam is sprayed with gray spray paint, not only does it take on the gray color, but the chemicals eat into the styrofoam and make a nice brick texture. I also bought several lengths of red satiny fabric to hang from the ceiling. In the end, the room had a nice, coffin-like appearance. When the local paper came through before the house was open, I was summoned along with Lara, Jerry and a few others to appear for pictures. The picture we had taken was myself holding Lara and bending down as if to bite her. If my scanner was up and running, I would put it up on the board for you guys to see. I’m the big scare in the house, a whole room designed for me, and my picture in the paper. This was definitely turning into my year.

My costume consisted of black slacks with a belt, long sleeve fishnet shirt, studded bracelets, plain black T-shirt, form fitting gray suit vest, classic black and red cape and a silver medallion with a red jewel. I paled my face and added some black paint around my eyes, and of course had the professional style fangs. Excellent costume. To add to it all, perhaps 15 minute before I left, I looked up some words in Latin. Enough to form a few sentence, just enough to give the guests a little talking to. And in case they stepped out of line I learned “You’re not funny”, “Idiot” and “Shut up”. I had my share of good scares, but also an equal amount of morons. My slayer was played by four different people on any given day. Aki, Kerrie, and Amy all played that they were the slayer and they had just killed me, saying the curse was over. Lara played it differently. She acted as an indignant member of the household who had lived here peacefully with the other ghouls until myself and the other vampires moved in. It was all in good fun. I had a few favorite moments of the year.

-When the lights went out, I’d smell blood. That is to say, I could make out the various scared noises made by our guests. Whoever seemed to be the most scared would be my target. I’d find where they were, lean over the rail right in front of them and turn on the strobes. I had some great reactions. A lot of people would hit the wall behind them when they backed up. I had one woman break into a frantic dance. Can’t say I’ve ever been so scared that I danced. One girl said she was gonna have nightmares. That gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, knowing that I terrified someone to that level.

-Again, some smart mouthed kids provided ample entertainment. They just wouldn’t shut up….. until I turned on the strobes. They froze and shut up as I addressed them, clearly scared at the vampire with the funny language. When I bid them to leave they did so. And as they got down the hall, they started mouthing off again, mocking me. This, I wouldn’t let slide. I hopped the rail and chased them down, getting one more good scare before they left.

-Aki had been trying to have a cigarette between groups while working with me. She assured me that when the group set off the buzzer in the adjoining hall, she could run from the door to her position in my room before they entered. The buzzer went off, she tore down the hall, hopped the rail and was in position. Excellent. She did this with the following three groups, but as we know, with any risk you run, it’s only a matter of time before it gets you…. The buzzer goes off, I hear her run, she gets in the room, leaps the rail and BAM! Slams her knee into the rail. Nothing serious, but we both had a good laugh about it later.

-Jamison working the Toxic Shock room. Classic gold, I’m telling you. He’d just rant and rave, coming up with ways to mess with people. “Your mother called! She worries!”. And to anyone with short hair “Get a haircut, hippie!” It was absolutley hilarious.

-Since I was the main part of my room, I only left my room to take a bathroom break I believe two or three times that year. It was all on the last night too. I’ll just say stomach problems and leave it at that. However, our bathroom door jams shut, so you gotta be careful on how hard you close it. I did, but someone tried to get in while I was in. I told them I was in there, and he pushed the door all the way shut. Fuck. Thankfully, it was a slow night. I threw my shoulder into the door several times, kicked it, but it wouldn’t budge. So, I stood on the toilet and kicked just above the knob and it flew open….. while a group was in the room. I only missed maybe three groups the entire year, and it was all due to that bathroom.

Another year had come and gone, and now we’re staring down the barrel of October 2003. We already have the house planned and work is already being started. Again, there is a room with me in mind for it, but it’s the first room of the house. We’ll see what this coming year holds.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

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Soundtrack to Life – Happy Haunting – The Move

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to week 5. This week will be a continuation of last week, as I felt this story was entirely too long for one week. Though I’m not really worried about running out of stories, I’m reminding you all now that this isn’t just my column. It is yours as well as mine. Particularly, I think this is a good chance for you writers to spread your wings and be the spotlight of the week. You will get mention in the title so people know it’s you writing for the week. But anyways, enjoy this week’s naration.

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Happy Haunting – The Move

“Suggestions” by System of a Down

My second year of working for the haunted house faded into memory as one of the greats. Though I didn’t have a major role, I felt as though I was coming into my own. I’d actually had a few roles this year that I held for more than one night. Perhaps Gary was begining to realize that I was one of the more dependable workers we had. What would the next year hold though? What brilliant schemes and scares would we have prepared for 2001? I could only sit and wait to find out. Who would have thought that the Jaycees would be the recipient of the first scare.

They had been planning the house for a few months and were about to head out to the site to begin work, when they received a rather unwelcome piece of news. The owner of the warehouse had decided, that despite the contributions to the community, they would increase the rent, forcing them to pay a fee they couldn’t afford. It was over. Our house site had been taken from us. The haunted house had actually been a structure within a structure. Walls and all had been built up by the Hartford Jaycees, and now they could no longer have it there. It looked as though there wouldn’t be a haunted house this year. When I got the news, it was like telling little Timmy that there wouldn’t be a Christmas this year. In the two years working for this establishment, I’d grown so very fond of this event. Halloween had taken over as my favorite holiday. And now, I was being told that I may not be able to celebrate it this year as I’d like to. But like any Christmas story, just when things seemed their worst, a ray of hope shown through. Someone had located a vacated farm house out in Slinger. Two stories plus a basement as well as an adjacent barn. Look at Rudolph’s nose everyone! He can light our way through the fog! Christmas Halloween was saved!

Times change though, as do some of those things you’d once thought were a constant. Jay moved out to Milwaukee, and Musse could no longer work for the haunted house due to a court ruling, so it seemed my ride was history. Aki, much like myself had been looking forward to this Halloween and wasn’t about to let this be a set back. She’d talked her boyfriend at the time into taking us out there. Everything was falling into place, we just needed some new gear for the year. We made a trip out to Halloween Express. I picked up a black velvet cape and studded cuffs, while Aki collected a black velvet dress and black vinyl cape. It wasn’t much, but it would provide us with something new for the year, rather than the dressing room full of ancient costumes.

When we arrived, we were greeted by much of the staff of previous years, as well as a few new faces. Sure enough, Lara and Tiff were amongst the crowd. After getting a swift guided tour, we hurried to the second floor of the barn where our make up room now was. It all didn’t seem to have the spaciousness of the warehouse, but the fact that it was a real house added to the atmosphere. I’d found out that on my first night, I’d be working with the infamous Aaron Smiley. His claim to fame was his butcher routine. He has this ability to intimidate most anyone that enters that makes him quite helpful to the house. Tonight, he’d be taking on a new persona; That of one Dr. McNasty.

I played his giggling psycho of an assistant, but I wasn’t all that convincing. Aaron got into his role, perhaps a little too far. He began saying rather lewd things to customers. Asking them to turn around so that he could “get a specimen”. Snapping a rubber glove, saying they could do this “The easy way or the hard way”. I wasn’t too surprised to find that he’d been removed by the end of the first weekend. Second night, I had the easiest scare in the house. I was the chainsaw man. We had a path going through the forest outside. I found myself a little area to hide behind, only to come charging out at the group, saw a-blazin’. One of the first groups I did this for was some smart mouthed little kids. I came charging out, fired up the saw, and it died, not 3 yard away. The kids made some smart alec remark at me, just as I got the saw started again. They changed their tune mighty quick, and wound up cowering on the ground as I stood over them. There it was, that power trip. I laughed and ushered them away. I remember another group, one that knew my location and started running before I even appeared. I chased them anyways, saw over my head screaming “You’re all gonna die!!!”. Where else can you get away with that? I loved it. Unfortunately for me though, the saw died and I resided within the house for the rest of the night, moving from room to room.

We’d met up with Speedy, a friend of ours from West Bend at the house, and he offered to be our ride from then on in. That next weekend, I was pleasantly surprised with my assignment. Gary told me they needed someone to run the kitchen, first room of the house. I would actually be running a room! Here’s hopin’ I don’t drop the ball. I whipped up a costume, character and script and shot from the hip. It was a success! I loved working this room, absolutely loved it. I got so into it, that my southern-fried Beetlejuice accent actually carried over to my real life at times. I was high energy, always looking for some innovation, and just reasons to act strange in general. I wasn’t me and I was having a blast. I had a few favorite moments in this room.

-Our two big scares in the room were the table, where someone was hidden within and would jump on cue, and a soup pot that when a sensor was tripped, air would blast out of a hose and make the lid jump. After I got the table scare on one group, I stated “Now, if yall don’t like that, Yall gotta try mah soup!” Upon saying this, a young man in a letterman’s jacket backed away from the pot. I had to single him out. “Aww, whassa matter? Big bad letterman afraid of a little soup?!” He jumped pretty good when that went off too.

-Working with Lara on the final night, we had one group remaining. She warned me that she would ham it up for this group and I told her to go nuts. Her normal line to me was “The soup doesn’t want to be eaten!”, so that takes maybe a few seconds. She unleashed with a minute long tirade, completely off the cuff, about why the guests shouldn’t eat the soup. She wound up backing me into a corner, and when she was done, all I had for a rebuttal was “Uh, okay.” Yet another priceless memory.

Ahh, working with Lara, yes. That’s another story in and of itself. Until this point, I’d only really known her as that girl from Hartford who worked at the haunted house. When I learned she was Aki’s friend, she was now a friend of a friend. But this year, things changed. I remember a night in particular. It had been a relatively slow night, groups coming through every 3 minutes or so. I remember it snowing, though just a little. I’d take breaks between groups, stepping out onto the balcony, watching the snow and awaiting the next group. To pass the time, Lara and I talked. Aki had told me a little about this girl, but I had no idea the troubles she had faced in her life. Much was similar in our lives, so we had much to talk about. By the end of the night, I’d realized that we weren’t such strangers after all. More like “kindered spirits”. A heart warming moment, no?

I’d made such an impression on Gary that I was asked to hold the position all year. By the end of the year, my room had shown signs of wear and tear. Dents and chip in the floor, counter and sink. Broken pots, pans and other utensils. I just went all out in here. To this day, this is my favorite room I ever worked. On that final night, Gary asked if I’d be interested in joining the Jaycees so I could help plan next year’s house. This was gonna be great! Finally, my input helps to make the haunted house. It was gonna be another good year.

The reason for the song; I remember listening to this song on the way to the house for the first time this year. We listened to the whole CD, this one just stuck out for some reason.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com